Ascites and spontaneous bacterial peritonitis: an Asian perspective

Jung Min Lee, Kwang-Hyub Han, Sang Hoon Ahn
Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2009, 24 (9): 1494-503
Ascites is the most common complication of liver cirrhosis, and it develops as a consequence of portal hypertension and splanchnic vasodilatation. Depending on severity, management of ascites consists of diverse strategy, including dietary sodium restriction, diuretic therapy, repeated large-volume paracentesis with albumin infusion, transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt, and liver transplantation. Recently, advances in medical therapy have been made with satavaptan, a V2 receptor antagonist, vasoconstrictors, such as clonidine, midodrine, or terlipressin, and other categories of drugs, including docarpamine and Chinese herbs. These drugs may serve as useful adjuncts to conventional diuretics in the management of ascites. Besides ascites itself, serious complications, such as spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) and hepatorenal syndrome, frequently ensue in decompensated cirrhosis. SBP develops from the translocation of bacteria from the intestine, and successful management with early diagnosis and treatment with proper prevention in patients of high risk is necessary. In summary, ascites is a starting point for more serious complications in liver cirrhosis. Although liver transplantation is the fundamental treatment, it is not always feasible, and consequently various means of treatment should be used. Further study, particularly in Asia where hepatitis B virus-related cirrhosis is predominant, is warranted to improve the clinical outcome.

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